Lionel Messi is scheduled to become a free agent on Thursday, but sources tell ESPN that Barcelona is optimistic in reaching an agreement with the striker.
Messi’s contract at Camp Nou expires on Wednesday, and he has yet to negotiate a new deal to extend his 20-year stay.
- The Ultimate History of Lionel Messi at Barcelona – La Liga on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
However, a loose agreement has been reached, and Barca is working to finalize the details in order to announce the deal as soon as possible.
Sources have told ESPN that Barca are in the process of squaring the numbers with La Liga and the tax office to ensure there are no problems moving forward.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has cautioned the club that until they make more cuts, they may not be able to register Messi’s new contract.
Barca had the highest wage bill in the league before to the pandemic, at more than €600 million per season. However, this figure has since been reduced to little over €300 million.
Messi’s most recent contract with the club was worth more than €500 million over four years, including his salary, bonuses, and image rights.
Barca, who has a €1 billion debt, cannot afford to pay Messi as much this time and has had to be clever with their contract offer.
Joan Laporta, the president of ESPN, announced earlier this year that she had drafted a two-year deal with an option for a third year.
The club also wants to give Messi the freedom to move to Major League Soccer and serve as a Barca ambassador before returning to the club in a backroom post of his choice.
Messi, according to Laporta, is more concerned with assurances of having a competitive squad created around him than with the financial aspect of the deal.
Barcelona hasn’t won the Champions League since 2015, and hasn’t won La Liga in two years.
Messi, who turned 34 last week, told Barca last summer that he wanted to go but has become more amenable to staying over the last year.
The return of Laporta, who was previously in charge between 2003 and 2010, and the resignation of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with whom he did not get along, has been a big role.
Further delaying any announcement over a new deal is Messi’s participation in the Copa America with Argentina, although Laporta has carried out negotiations with the player’s father and agent, Jorge.
Messi scored twice in a 4-1 win over Bolivia on Monday to become Argentina’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing Javier Mascherano with his 148th cap.
Argentina takes on Ecuador in the quarterfinals on Saturday, with Messi aiming for his first major trophy with the Albiceleste after losing three Copa America finals and one World Cup final with the team.